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Frank Gore’s All-Around Talent Continues to Shine

Posted Jan 8, 2014

Frank Gore ran, blocked and caught the ball at key moments in the 49ers playoff win over the Packers.

If Jim Harbaugh had to captain a pick-up basketball team, Frank Gore would likely be his first choice.

The 49ers coach offered a memorable explanation as to why he’d want his starting running back on his team in any sport.

When asked about Gore’s blocking ability, in particular a lead-block on a 42-yard Colin Kaepernick in last week’s win over Green Bay, Harbaugh reasoned that his future Hall of Fame running back is selfless on the field.

That attribute is needed on any team.

“The guy that’s just going to hit the 30-foot jump shots isn’t necessarily the best player,” Harbaugh began in offering his basketball-to-blocking metaphor. “You want the guy that’s going to go in and compete. Set a hard pick. Go in there with the elbows and do the dirty work and compete and help your team win. And Frank does that as good as or better than anybody in the league.”

Gore did the dirty work on Kaepernick’s 42-yard run by cutting Packers linebacker Brad Jones in the open field, opening up the left side of the field in the process. Two plays later, Gore capped off a scoring drive with a 10-yard touchdown run, giving him a touchdown run in his past four postseason games.

"He’s one of the best, whether it’s lead blocking on a scramble or pass protection," Kaepernick said of Gore's blocking. "He’s one of the best in the league at what he does.”

The all-out effort on the cut-block wasn’t much of a surprise in the film room this week. Teammates have been seeing the franchise’s all-time leading rusher make similar plays for years.

“Frank’s always been a real competitive player, willing to do anything to help the team,” three-time Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Staley said. “I think that’s one of the things he prides himself on, not just running the ball, but pass-protecting and getting downfield, doing anything he can to help the team.

“He’s shown that his whole career. We’re not surprised by it.”

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Gore credited his running backs coach, former 49ers fullback Tom Rathman, for stressing the importance of blocking downfield and in the pocket.

“I’d rather do whatever it takes, whether it’s running, catching, blocking, whatever it takes to be successful,” Gore said. “My coach, Tom Rathman, he’s really big on it.”

Rathman explained to Gore that little things like blocking help form a positive reputation around the football world.

“That’s why I don’t mind doing it,” Gore, the ninth-year pro said.

Gore finished the Packers game with 66 yards on 20 carries. The 10-yard touchdown run was his longest run of the Wild Card win. Gore now has 548 career rushing yards in the postseason which stands as third-most in franchise history behind Roger Craig (817) and Steve Young (594).

The 30-year-old running back’s longest play from scrimmage against Green Bay was perhaps his most impressive. It came on an 11-yard reception on San Francisco’s game-winning scoring drive. The hard-charging runner and selfless blocker crept out of the backfield to catch a rifled 11-yard pass from Kaepernick for a first down on a 2nd-and-9 play from midfield.

Whether it’s by run, pass or even as a blocker, Gore is willing to do what is necessary to advance in the postseason.

The veteran runner recognizes the challenge ahead with a NFC Divisional Playoff road game against the Carolina Panthers, the very same team who held the 49ers to 9 points in a Week 10 victory.

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Even so, Gore rushed 16 times for 82 yards in the loss.

“Sunday will be a good game,” Gore said. “They’ve got a good team. We’ve got a good team. We’ll be ready.”

Gore said San Francisco’s offensive personnel remain confident on the matchup and have identified the mistakes that led to a lackluster performance against Carolina.

“It’s playoff time,” Gore said. “We’re going to clean up the mistakes and try and move forward, try and get this win.

“We’re going to be ready for the test on Sunday and try to get the job done."

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